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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

When choosing between happy hearts and your violin ...
by Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice,

I'm HUNGRY and I want a GAME and you never FEED me and I only have ONE happy heart lit up and WHERE IS MY MUMMY????

Rachel's first Tamagotchi,
aged 4,
38 lbs.

Dear James,

Listen mate, I did not ask for this. All I did was agree that Rachel, having laboriously saved up £11.99, was entitled to spend it. All I did was take her to Woolworths, where she bore down with purposeful mien onto the Tamagotchi counter. I did not ask for an irritating, four-year-old virtual pet to be handed tearfully to me on her first day at Junior School this AM with strict instructions not to let it die, Mummy, promise me, PROMISE???????!!!!!!!!!!

Now look, I am a humane lady. I brake for small animals. I move worms out of the path of schoolkids. And I look after, at conservative estimate, two dachshunds, one giant African landsnail, 20 pond snails, seven goldfish and more sea monkeys then you can shake a stick at.

But none of these creatures jump up and down, minute by minute, demanding cuddles, cupcakes, praise (praise for what, exactly?? Jumping up and down??) and attention. The dogs are perfectly content with their doggy lives, as long as they get walked. The snail doesn't even want walks: he bestirs himself to 'romp' around the back garden (moving about two feet in as many hours). The pond snails are active (belying the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's description of boring back-desk strings as 'pondlife') but notably undemonstrative, and the fish just swim around swimmingly, bringing swimmified joy to all who behold them.

Only you, James, spend every waking moment demanding things: treats, friends, games, jumps, food, and I'm too old for this lark. I gave up all that stuff at 40. So my advice to you is to take a LONG WALK on a SHORT PIER and ... What was that? You want a cupcake and a cuddle?

Oh, what the hell.
Your grandmother,

The Tamagotchi Connection: Version 2 Tropical Fun-Light Blue with Flowers, by Bandai

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

I am a grown-up violinist (I started at 30) and about grade 6 or so. I love the violin and I play in two orchestras, neither of which is stunning and amazing but a lot of fun, and I've been asked to play in a quartet for fun that meets two evenings a month.

My problem is this. My husband is jealous of my violin -- or, at least, of the time I spend on it, away from him. We've never had children and until I got good enough to play in the orchestras we did most things together. Now he complains when I practice and is sour when I go to rehearsals. Should I turn down the quartet, for his sake? I'm beginning to think I'll have to.

H K in Manchester

Dear H K,

You don't say how much you want to join this quartet, but your longing to do so still communicates itself to me ... I think you really do have a problem with your husband. A friend of mine (who has since remarried) had a similar trouble with her first husband, who seemed to feel that her every waking moment should be spent attending to his needs (see James, the tamagotchi, above!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I'm not saying that divorce is the answer, but I think your diagnosis is correct (that your husband is jealous of your new interest) and that you've got some serious talking to do.

I'm not a fan of the Siamese-twin type of marriage anyway, but perhaps that worked for you, until the violin came along. Perhaps your husband needs to find an outside interest that's all his own (can I NOT recommend tamagotchis here?) such as bowls or tennis or chess or local politics ... I hate the idea of your denying yourself the funnest of all musical activity (chamber music) just because old gloomy-face can't bring himself to watch the telly on his own ... You need to combine this, however, with a charm offensive: making sure he doesn't feel that you actually PREFER your violin to him (if you DO, of course, then your case is on all fours with my friend's and you're better off without him ...)

You also have to, after making it clear that the violin is not a threat (as it can't mend a fuse or take care of spiders or do any of the other things men are so useful for!!!!!) get him to talk openly about why he feels so bad about it. If he won't (talk, understand, try to develop a new interest) you may even need some professional counselling on this one. Perhaps he had a scarred childhood, and a mother who failed to look after his tamagotchi so that it lost all its HAPPY HEARTS and it DIED and ... omigod, sorry, got to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Copyright © 9 September 2005 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

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